Bella Galhos singing. She is a Timorese woman. I was with her in East Timor
the day East Timor became an independent nation, independent after 25 years
of occupation by Indonesia. This is Democracy
Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.
Our guest on the phone from
Indonesia is Allan Nairn, award-winning investigative journalist and
activist. We’re also joined by John Miller here in the studio. He’s the
national coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network.
And many in Indonesia, particularly in the human rights
community, would rather not see the military, particularly Kopassus,
involved in those efforts. There have been enough police human rights abuses
involved in the anti-terrorism effort there.
Before we go back to Allan, John, I just wanted you to explain how it was that the United States government,
under the Obama administration, restored military aid, restored aid to
Kopassus, the Red Berets of the Indonesian military.
JOHN M. MILLER
military training to Indonesia was cut off in May 1998 due to another
exposé of Allan’s and some documents Congress got. And gradually, since
East Timor voted for independence, when all military assistance was
suspended, it’s been restored. And the only thing that remained restricted
was aid to Kopassus because of its human rights record. There’s a law, the
Leahy Law, that says the U.S. should not train units that have unresolved or
ongoing human rights violations, which certainly includes Kopassus.
And the Bush administration,
actually, a few years ago tried to restore aid to Kopassus, promised it to
the president, Yudhoyono, and his own State Department legal team said no.
And last summer, Secretary of State Gates—Secretary
of Defense Gates went to Indonesia on a surprise visit, quick visit, and
announced that the U.S. would engage with Kopassus. They didn’t say it would
be full training, but they said that enough reform had happened—some of the
officers, that had been convicted within Kopassus of killing a Papuan
leader, who had been jailed briefly and then restored to the unit, were
removed from the unit, though not from the military, significantly
enough—and that that was enough progress to restore this last bit, and that
they would focus on counterterrorism training. The thing is that Indonesian
counterterrorism efforts have been focused on the police. And many in
Indonesia, particularly in the human rights community, would rather not see
the military, particularly Kopassus, involved in those efforts. There have
been enough police
human rights abuses involved in the anti-terrorism effort there.
Allan, we’re going to come back to you, but I wanted to ask John Miller of
the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, what you’re calling for, very
JOHN MILLER: Well,
briefly, we would like to see President Obama,
first of all, apologize for U.S. policy towards Indonesia. As a child, he
grew up in the Suharto years. He’s familiar with what Suharto did and the
U.S backing of it. Second, is—
AMY GOODMAN: Killed a
half-a-million to a million Indonesians.
JOHN MILLER: Indonesians,
invaded East Timor, took over West Papua. And second, as a start, end
cooperation with Kopassus and the police counterterrorism unit, which has an
awful human rights record, Detachment 88. And third, go to the U.N. and see
that those that were indicted, like the deputy defense minister, who were
indicted in East Timor, are brought to trial. Those would be important steps
the U.S. can take.